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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Seventh Sunday in Easter, Rising:Unbroken Circle


5/17


Andre, Stephanoie, Bob and Jillian


It’s the seventh, and last Sunday in Easter.  It’s AIDS WALK Sunday. Streets filed with marching people. Outside the Amsterdam Street festival is in full swing, inflated play spaces right outside our front doors. This will be a crazy day. Our them e today is Rising 6:  Unbroken Circle. One last time we will begin with  singing our Alleluias. Our first song will be the much maligned Kum Ba Yah. I’ll explain it’s intriguing trans-Atlantic journey back and forth between the US and Africa until Pete Seeger brings it back in it's African form. It deserves better than it’s current image as a camp fire song. 

Our first lesson this morning  is from Acts 1: 15-17, 21-26, the meeting to replace Judas. Following the First Psalm, we sing We shall not be moved. And then a brief reading from John 17: 10-14.

. 10All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. 12While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost… 13But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. 

Our reflection begins and ends with music from our guests Stephanie Johnstone and Jillian Buckley. Songs from their new project, Love Songs for the rest of Us. (http://lovesongsfortherestofus.com/)

Stephanie and Jillian sing with us


Our theme this morning is the unbroken circle. We begin with the story about replacing Judas. He’s a character that has continued to capture out imaginations from Jesus Christ Super Star to the recently discovered gospel of Judas where Jesus needs someone very special to play this role and determines only Judas is strong enough to fulfill it. At its base is the need to need to keep the circle complete…

I’ve said many to me here form my experience in Oklahoma that my Native American friends always said that once a circle had been created it would always remain.  Our circle once made always remains…

The question has meaning for us. We have  lost numbers…how do we replace the people who have left? How do we complete our circle? Our situation is not dissimilar to main line   Christianity  as a whole, although  some congregations are doing quite well and will continue to do so. So how do we?

But reflecting on Stephanie’s project took me to a deeper place…how we have kept people out of the circle..

At the recent Rock Stars and Prophets celebration at Stony Point, a gathering of the people who worked and fought  all these years for LGBTQ inclusion in the church, I couldn’t help but think of   all those lost years, of rejection, of excluding….of my friend and fellow Yale student Chris, his ordination kept on ice for nearly 35 years…lost in our  celebration of inclusion, now won, is some kind of amends, an apology,

Young people today are  so  much cooler…In the Black Lives Matter movement self named  queer leadership is on the front of the struggle arm in arm with everyone else, It's a new day. 

Here’s what Jesus had to say:

10All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. 12While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost… 13But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. 


Hear those words:
protect them…
guarded them…
not one lost…

If, as we have through this season, we are looking for Jesus, then we must look  at the edges, the margins, the outside of the circle…let us welcome him and join in his work of guarding, protecting…so we might be one…

Stephanie and Jillian share another song with us. And we pray. And receive the offering. An we conclude with Will the circle be unbroken? As I have adapted it. 

Will the circle be unbroken
By and by, by and by?
Is a better home awaiting
In the sky, in the sky?
In the joyous days of childhood
Oft they told of wondrous love
Pointed to the loving Saviour;
Now they dwell with Him above.
(Chorus)
You remember songs of heaven
Which you sang with childish voice.
Do you sing new songs of freedom
And with loving hearts rejoice?
(Chorus)
Once we gather in our circle
That circle shall remain
We will be one in spirit
Until we’re home again.
 (Chorus)


After we sing our Amens, we share peace with one another. Tome to walk outside, explore the life of the street fair filling our street. 




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